The Republican Message To The Unemployed

The following table tallies the votes that members of the Senate Finance Committee have cast on extending tiers of unemployment insurance benefits. The table is sorted by the number of 'yes' votes, and each row is colored to show the Senator's party affiliation.

Senate Finance Committee
Voting Record On Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Senator Party State Votes to Extend UE State Unemployment
Max Baucus D MT 12/12 7.30%
Jeff Bingaman D NM 12/12 8.20%
Maria Cantwell D WA 12/12 8.90%
Thomas Carper D DE 12/12 8.40%
Kent Conrad D ND 12/12 3.60%
John Kerry D MA 12/12 9.00%
Chuck Schumer D NY 12/12 8.20%
Debbie Stabenow D MI 12/12 13.10%
Ron Wyden D OR 12/12 10.60%
Blanche Lincoln D AR 11/12 7.40%
John Rockefeller D WV 11/12 8.60%
Bill Nelson D FL 10/12 11.50%
Robert Menendez D NJ 9/12 9.70%
Olympia Snowe R ME 9/12 8.10%
Chuck Grassley R IA 5/12 6.80%
Jon Kyl R AZ 5/12 9.60%
Pat Roberts R KS 5/12 6.50%
Michael Crapo R ID 4/12 8.80%
John Ensign R NV 4/12 14.30%
Orrin Hatch R UT 3/12 7.20%
Jim Bunning R KY 2/12 9.90%
John Cornyn R TX 2/12 8.20%
Michael Enzi R WY 2/12 6.70%

Three data points merit attention:

  • North Dakota has a very enviable 3.6% unemployment rate, but Senator Conrad of ND has voted 12 of 12 times to extend unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Nevada is on the other end of the scale: at 14.3%, it leads the nation in unemployment, but Senator Ensign of NV has only voted in four out of 12 instances to extend UI benefits. Nevada's unemployment rate is over a full point higher than that of Michigan, but it was Senator Stabenow who introduced S. 3706 - Senator Ensign is not on record as either a co-sponsor or a supporter.
  • Maine, with an unemployment rate of 8.1%, ranks 21st - slightly better than the country as a whole. Senator Snowe of ME has voted 9 out of 12 times to extend benefits.

In fact, with the exception of Senator Snowe, each of the remaining Republican Senators on the Committee have voted to extend UI benefits less than half of the time.

In previous recessions, emergency unemployment benefits were the norm, lasting from 25 to 33 months as seen here:

click to view full-size

The evidence is clear: the Republican Party is more than willing to tell the nation's unemployed, in the words of Senator Bunning, "tough shit".


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